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NEW DELHI/BENGALURU (PTI): Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russian defence firms have finalised the Joint Venture agreement for collaboration in the production of light weight multi-role 'Kamov 226T' helicopters in India, a top Russian defence executive has said.
The document is awaiting formal registration with relevant bodies in the respective countries which is likely to take another "month or two", the executive said on Tuesday.
The Inter-Government agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia in December, 2015.
Last year in October, Russian Helicopters, Rosoboronexport and HAL Corporation had created a joint venture to localise the production of Ka-226Ts and deliver them to the Indian market in an estimated USD 1 billion deal.
The agreement for the Joint Venture (JV) was signed at the BRICS summit in Goa last year. In addition to the assembly, the JV provides terms for maintenance, operation and repairs of these helicopters.
"Since October 2016, the project has been moving full steam ahead. We have conducted multiple negotiations, most recently in January this year. In January, the document work for the JV was completed and they have been sent for registration with the relevant government bodies," Viktor Kladov, head of International Cooperation, Rostec told PTI.
Rostec Corporation is the parent company of Russian arms supplier Rosoboronexport.
Kladov said the JV would soon be a reality i.e. "in one to two months", adding that this was the final stage of forming the joint venture company.
When the JV is registered, it can start acting as a subject and negotiate the terms with customers and parent companies, he said.
The schedule of delivery and localisation as well as the terms and the number of units will be up to the JV to finalise.
"My assumption is that the production will take place at the HAL facilities in Bengaluru. They are well equipped and have qualified workforce. Besides, they are now completing the Su-30MKI production program. Hence, they will have the manpower and facilities to take on the Ka-226T project," the Rostec official said.
He said while the number of units is to be set by the JV, but "as per the Russian estimate, India requires no less than 400 units of these helicopters."
"These helicopters are versatile and modular so they can be used in military, search and rescue, medical and transport tasks. It is possible that the regional market, the neighbouring countries may be interested and the choppers can become export products on their own," he said.